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  • Statistics on Combat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
    among members of the US Military

    Lifetime occurrence (prevalence) in combat veterans 10-30%.
    In the past year alone the number of diagnosed cases in the
    military jumped 50%- and that’s just diagnosed cases.
    Studies estimate that 1 in every 5 military personnel returning
    from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTSD.
    20 % of the soldiers who have been deployed in the past 6
    years have PTSD. That’s over 300,000.
    17% of combat troops are women; 71% of female military
    personnel develop PTSD due to sexual assault within the ranks.

    Thursday, I learned from a Chevron attendant, is the worst traffic day of the week.
    It was a long drive, six hours, made longer by bumper to bumper gridlock
    from Pasadena to Escondido. Ray Bradbury predicted twenty years ago,
    when he tried to get Los Angeles to put in a monorail, that by 2015 A.D.,
    all traffic in and around Los Angeles would move at 5 MPH.
    Such is the logical outcome of America's love affair with the car.
    And so our love affair with the car, has led to our addiction to oil,
    and our wars for that oil, to keep that oil flowing, Who said:" The addict will do anything to
    protect his supply - lie, cheat, kill - and in this case, go to war."?

    When we murder innocent civilians and children in the Middle East,
    when we drop cluster bombs, and phosphorous bombs,
    and bomb villages and entire cities back to the Stone Age,
    it is not about “democracy,” (whatever that is or is not these days,)
    but about securing safe passage for oil pipelines,
    and taking over production facilities and ‘assets in the ground’
    to keep the economies of the Western world stable, and well fed
    on the Black Gold they cannot live without – “It’s about the oil, stupid.”

    Stuck in a hundred-mile long traffic jam, stop start, stop start,
    I listened to progressive radio station KPFK, and learned
    that even as I was creeping across the desertified landscape
    of the “Inland Empire,” thousands of protesters were surrounding
    the Federal Buildings in downtown Los Angeles to hear from
    a Constitutional lawyer about what it means that we have now lost
    the centuries-old right to Habeas Corpus, and how that might work
    in the life of average folks like you, me, and our families and friends:
    It means go straight to jail, no right to counsel, no phone calls, no nothing.
    It might mean detention in a “facility” in Albuquerque, or deportation
    to a windowless cell in an unknown city in an unknown country,
    with some torture thrown into the mix and who knows what else.

    (Our addiction to oil, our lust for oil, our wars for oil,
    have led to bizarre 'unintended consequences,' like the nearly
    complete loss of our civil liberties, and the virtual shredding of
    our Constitution. And we take over one oil rich country after another,
    with one excuse after another, and now it is "those terrorists."
    "Those terrorists," like the Barbarians in Cavafy's poem,
    have been a kind of excuse, haven't they?)

    So much for the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, and just
    about every principle this country was founded upon. R.I.P.
    There was also a report on the progress of John Conyers’
    Articles of Impeachment, and other items of interest to those
    who still, in spite of everything, have hope for our U.S.of A.

    About the time I was getting near San Bernardino,
    another program came on with a special report about the unusually high incidence
    of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among military personnel
    returning from Iraq. The new program, by the way, is one year back home,
    then two years back in Afghanistan or Iraq. Expect mass desertions, for sure.
    The reporter said nine out of ten folks coming home show signs of PTSD.
    Symptoms can include a sense of constant danger, hyper-alertness,
    an above-normal consumption of alcohol, nightmares, and anger,
    along with a deep sense of alienation. Alien nation.
    Not my country 'tis of thee, this warmongering purveyor of genocide,
    torture, and destroyer of basic human rights across the board.
    Democracy? Sure. We should be so lucky. No wonder “they” resist
    having what “we” have. We are hardly the poster child for freedom these days.

    It was full moon, and the moon was coming up deep red through the smog,’
    then pale orange, like a Halloween pumpkin, then pale yellow, then white.
    I finally lost KPFK to a Latino pop station out of Tijuana. Besame, besame.
    Switched to cool jazz on The Wave, and thought about the Federal Building
    protestors heading home now. Some came from hundred of miles away.

    Heading south, in the now silver moonlight, I was haunted by ghosts,
    ghosts of veterans coming home, and those on their one-year leave,
    and the heart-breaking statistics on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
    Our fighting men and women, damaged at some deep level of their souls,
    who see danger everywhere and drink too much,
    and fly into temper tantrums over nothing and cry easily,
    and who cry out, again and again, from their dreams of the war zone,
    this war zone, no longer far away, but right here
    at home.

    Mine eyes have seen the glory. America, America, God shed his grace on thee. Oh, say can you see?

    (Photograph by Alex in the US Combat Veterans Center, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)

    (Edited and reposted 5-14-12)
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